Italian fighters, training and liaison aircrafts

Discussion in 'Aircraft Pictures' started by gekho, Jul 1, 2012.

  1. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    The Royal Italian Air Force – The Regia Aeronautica — was considered one of the most advanced in the world. The Royal Italian Air Force (hereafter RIAF) won a stunning 96 international aviation awards during this period. Italy airplanes were renowned worldwide. In 1939, before Italy entered the war, it also had the third largest civilian commercial air system, just behind Germany and the UK respectively. The RIAF also had the most actual combat experience between the great wars of any European nation; only Japan would have had more combat flight hours by World War II. Italy airplanes flew over conflicts in Libya, Ethiopia and Spain. Italy contributed more aircraft to the Nationalist side of the Spanish Civil War than did Germany. In all three theatres, Italian losses totalled more than 1,500 aircraft. Another 925 planes were exported. Theses figures, among other factors led to Italy’s surprisingly poor showing when it entered the in June of 1940. The RIAF was the most Fascist of the three military branches, and was known to be the favourite of dictator Benito Mussolini. Despite this favour and renown, the Italian air force could not stand up amongst its allies and competitors. The RIAF had enough planes: roughly 1,000 front-line aircraft and about 2,000 second and third-string planes. The problem was that only a small percentage of these planes were of the pedigree that won so many aviation awards. The rest of the air force was full of aging and obsolete aircraft. Organization was also a problem for the RIAF. The country was divided into three separate air zones, each with a few regional commands, some army-air co-op units and some navy reconnaissance squadrons. The RIAF maintained command of all pilots but the various competing commands and poor co-operation between the three military branches led to the blunting of what should have been a more precise instrument. To add to these troubles the RIAF did not have a modern air-combat philosophy or a proper manufacturing and re-supply program.

    Early on, the RIAF fought over France, commandeering some French planes after the country was taken. Mussolini wanted to have his air force fight in the Battle of Britain and some of the RIAF was moved to Belgium. The out-dated RIAF could not compete in this theatre and was withdrawn in short order. The RIAF moved on to the Mediterranean where it conducted airstrikes on places like Malta, Gibraltar and Palestine. British merchant and naval ships were also a target in this theatre although British ships underway proved a much harder quarry than the stationary shipyards of the Spanish Civil war. The RIAF was effective in the Balkans and in the western desert, especially after developing newer craft with imported German engines. Overall though, the Italian air force was plagued by inefficiency of production. The Italians produced too many different kinds of aircraft in small numbers. The airframes they designed were too complex and long in creating so that each plane took nearly 50% longer to build than comparable German aircraft. Most craft used underpowered radial engines and Italian planes were typically under-armed by simple virtue of cost. Many aircraft did not have radios until 1942. Italian ground-attack planes were so poorly designed that General Amadeo Mecozzi simply scrapped the whole fleet an purchased 159 German Ju-87 Stuka dive-bombers to replace them. At the time of the Armistice in September 1943, there were two Italian air forces: One for the Fascist north and another – which used allied aircraft – for the Allied government in the south.

    Source: Italy airplanes in World War 2
     
  2. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    The CR.42 was a evolutionary design based on the earlier Fiat CR.32, which was in turn derived from the Fiat CR.30 series created in 1932. The Regia Aeronautica had employed the CR.32 during the Spanish Civil War with great success, which led to Fiat proposing a more advanced fighter based around the supercharged Fiat A.74R1C.38 air-cooled radial engine geared to drive a metal three-blade Fiat-Hamilton Standard 3D.41-1 propeller of 2.9 m (9.5 ft) diameter and a robust, clean, sesquiplane design. The rigidly braced wings covered with fabric were constructed from light duralumin alloy and steel. It reached a top speed of 438 km/h (272 mph) at 5,300 m (17,400 ft) and 342 km/h (213 mph) at ground level. Climb rate was 1 minute and 25 seconds to 1,000 m (3,280 ft) and of 7 minutes and 20 seconds to 6,000 m (19,700 ft).

    In spite of the biplane configuration, the CR.42 was a modern, "sleek-looking" design based around a strong steel and alloy frame incorporating a NACA cowling housing the radial engine, with fairings for the fixed main landing gear. The CR.42's upper wing was larger than its lower wing, a configuration known as a sesquiplane. The aircraft proved exceptionally agile thanks to its very low wing loading, although at the same time, the CR.42 lacked armour and radio equipment.

    During evaluation, the CR.42 was tested against the Caproni Ca.165 biplane fighter, and was judged to be superior, although the Ca.165 was a more modern design which boasted a higher speed at the cost of maneuverability. Although the age of the biplane was coming to an end a number of other air forces expressed interest in the new fighter, and a number of early Falcos were delivered to foreign customers.
     

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  3. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    The Caproni Ca.164 was a training biplane produced in Italy shortly prior to World War II. It was a largely conventional biplane intended as a follow-on to the Ca.100 and sharing that aircraft's inverted sesquiplane layout. Flight testing revealed some poor handling characteristics, however, which made it completely unsuitable for its intended role. Nevertheless, the Regia Aeronautica acquired some 280 examples to use in liaison roles within bomber units. Some of these were pressed into use for tactical reconnaissance during the Croatian campaign. The Armée de l'Air also purchased 100 aircraft.
     

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  4. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    Evolved from the S.107, the S.207 was essentially a more powerful, productionised version of the basic design. The first of two prototypes of the S.207 was flown in the autumn of 1940, and was powered by an Isotta-Fraschini Delta R.C.35 12-cylinder rated at 705hp, this giving place in the second prototype to the R.C.40 version of the engine rated at 750hp at 4000m.
    Armament comprised two synchronised 12.7 mm machine guns, and a pre-series of 12 S.207s was built during March-July 1943, several of these being assigned to the 83a Squadriglia for evaluation, and six being assigned in August 1943 to the 162a and 163a squadriglie. These demonstrated excellent handling characteristics and outstanding manoeuvrability, prompting the Ministero dell Aeronautica to order 2,000 S.207s. In the event, this contract was to be overtaken by an order for a progressive development of the fighter, the S.403 Dardo. One pre-series S.207 was fitted with an armament of two 20mm cannon.
     

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  5. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

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  6. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    #6 gekho, Jul 2, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2012
    The birth of the last fighter biplane in service in World War 2 took place during the trial for a new monoplane fighter for the Regia Aeronautica (the so-called “Series 0″ aircraft). Waiting for the evaluation and testing of the various monoplanes, the Chief of Staff of the R.A., Gen. Valle, ordered the production of the CR.42 which he identified as a transition fighter with radial engine, conceived to ease the conversion on the new interceptors. This led to the building of the first prototype in early 1938 and on 5/23/38 it flew for the first time. Naturally, with the experience gained by the designer Celestino Rosatelli with excellent biplanes like the CR.30 and the CR.32, also his CR.42 had excellent flying characteristics, so that even before waiting for the results of the official military tests, a first series of 200 CR.42s had been already ordered, a higher number than the Macchi C.200 or the Fiat G.50, but this could be attributed also to the various teething troubles experienced by the new monoplanes. The paradoxical result was that, whereas both the C.200 and the G.50 were out of production by mid-1942, the CR.42 was still in production in 1944, while Germany’s new jet fighter Me 262 was already operational!

    Engined by the trusty 840 hp Fiat A.74 RC.38, the CR.42 was in service with 53° Stormo by 5/39 and before the entrance of Italy in the war, 300 aircraft had been already delivered to the Regia Aeronautica, constituting about 40% of the strength of the whole R.A. Top speed was 272 mph at 15,000ft, with a service ceiling of 32,970 ft and a range of 481 miles. The CR.42 was armed with 2 12.7mm machine guns. Meanwhile, the plane was also subject to several foreign orders: Hungary (50 examples) Belgium (40 examples) and Sweden (72 examples). Hungary was the first to buy the Italian biplane for its Magyar Királyi Légierö and placed orders for 52 aircraft during the summer of 1938, and equipped four Squadrons (1/1, 1/2, 1/3 and 1/4 of 1st Fighter Regiment) within the late spring of 1940. CR.42s of the Hungarian A.F. flew numerous sorties during the assault on Yugoslavia launched on 4/6/41 in concert by German and Hungarian and, when a special Air Force Brigade was formed less than two months later to accompany the Hungarian Fast Corps that was to participate in the assault on the Soviet Union to be launched on 6/22/41, the principal fighter element was provided by the 12 CR.42s of the 1/3 Squadron. By 12/41, after five months of continuous operations in which the 1/3 Squadron alone had flown some 300 sorties, destroying 17 Soviet aircraft in combat for the loss of two CR. 42s, the serviceability of the Air Force Brigade was deteriorating rapidly and it was therefore recalled to Hungary , the CR.42s being relegated to training role.
    In late 9/39 the Belgian government purchased 34 Fiat CR.42s to meet the urgent re-equipment needs of its air arm’s IIème Group de Chasse Due to the war, not all the Belgium order was completed instead, but only 26 CR.42s were delivered and, equipping 3e and 4e Escadrilles of 27éme Regiment, fought against the Luftwaffe from 5/10/40, effecting 35 operational missions and claiming 5 aerial victories for the loss of only two Fiats in combat before Belgium’s surrender on 6/28.The first Swedish CR.42s (named J-11) were bought, together with order for 120 fighters of the types Reggiane Re.2000 Falco I. The order for the Fiat fighter was for 72 aircraft and was the third and largest export order for the CR.42. They Italian aircraft got the Swedish designation J20 (Re.2000) respectively J11 (CR.42). The J11s were delivered between 2/40 and 9/41. By 11/41 all the Falcos were in service and they were assigned to F9 (F=Flottilj approx. Wing) at Säve, Gothenburg. Modifications included 20-mm armor plate behind the pilot, radio equipment and skis for winter service.

    The CR.42 was declared obsolete in 1945 and the remaining aircraft were purchased by AB Svensk Flygtjänst and used in post- war years as target-tug aircraft. There was also a short-lived experience of the CR.42 in Finland. In fact, 12 CR.42s had been bought through a public subscription and the Suomen Ilmavoimat received the first five in 4/40, but they were turned down (the problems caused by the Fiat G.50s were enough for the Finns.) and sent back to Sweden.
     

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  7. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    Turning back to the Regia Aeronautica, its first operations in World War II took place after 6/10/40 against France and were effected by the CR.42s of 53° Stormo (150° and 151° Gruppi) and of 3° Stormo (18° and 23° Gruppi). A couple of days after also the 13° Gruppo in Libya started operations against British forces. On the French front, the CR.42s claimed ten victories against five losses, but these must be read as optimistic, a 1:1 ratio should be closer to the truth. In Africa, the most intense operations took place in Somalia and Ethiopia and there, the Comando Africa Orientale Italiana had 36 CR.42s available employing them from 3 to 8/19/40 and obtaining air superiority against the RAF. But the losses and the attrition was great and, notwithstanding the further 51 CR.42s delivered by transporting them dismantled inside the S.82s, the isolation of the AOI begun to be a heavy necessity to be overcome and from 1/41 the aircraft available steadily diminished, going down from 26 on 1/10, to only five by mid-April. The two only surviving CR.42s managed to fight up to 10/41, but by 11/27/41 the AOI was lost, and 87 CR.42s with it.

    Another operation that took place by late 1940 was the infamous Corpo Aereo Italiano (C.A.I.). The propaganda operation designed to have Italian aircraft operating against the RAF on the Channel was ill conceived and conducted and showed at full the defects and the approximation of the Regia Aeronautica. The FIAT CR. 42s operating with C.A.I. were fifty, belonging to 18° Gruppo. On 10/19/40 they transferred on to the Belgian airfield of Ursel. The first action took place on 10/29, when 39 CR.42s escorted the Br.20s over Ramsgate. On 11/11 the bombers were escorted over Harwich by 40 CR. 42s but were intercepted by Spitfires and Hurricanes causing the loss of three CR.42s, while another nineteen were forced to crash-land in Belgium due to lack of fuel caused by the combat. The last action of November took place on the 29th between Margate and Folkstone with a combat against Spitfires that caused the loss of two more CR.42s (the British losses are still uncertain, if any). On 1/10/41 the CR.42s began to come back to Italy. Lack of heating equipment, open cockpits, primitive radio sets, in addition to an absolute lack of navigational capacities of the Italian pilots (a specific training was undertaken only after 1942) transformed this operation in a real nightmare for those involved!

    A front where the CR.42 operated in better conditions from the start was the North African one. The 127 “Falco” available in 13° Gruppo, 10° Gruppo and 9° Gruppo operated against an enemy equipped with the Gloster Gladiator, an equivalent biplane fighter. The first combat on 11/19/40 involved the Italian units and the Australian 3 Sqn. RAAF and this was followed by other combats on 12/10 and 12/26. Notwithstanding further CR.42s sent from Italy (among them those of 18° Gruppo, coming from C.A.I.), the Italian retreat and the loss of Cyrenaica by 2/41 brought to the loss of over 400 aircraft, many of them destroyed on the ground in front of the enemy advance. With the arrival of German troops and the start of the new offensive, the main task for the CR.42 biplane begun to be the close support to the ground units and when, on 4/41, the first CR.42 AS arrived (AS = Africa Settentrionale), equipped with sand filters and attachment points for two bombs, the switch of role was clear. The enemy had Hurricanes by now and the CR.42 surely was more useful in the ground support role. Thus, used more and more exclusively on this role with 160° Gruppo, 158° and 159° Gruppi (constituting 50° Stormo Assalto), 101° Gruppo Assalto and 15° Stormo Assalto, the CR.42s followed all the North African campaign showing on many occasions the bravery of its pilots and by early 1943 the surviving 82 examples were sent back to Italy from Tunisia.

    We have to give a look also at three other important theaters of operations: Greece, Crete and Malta. The operations against Greece involved 46 CR.42s of 150° Gruppo at first against Greek aircraft and later against the RAF. Almost twenty Fiats were lost by the end of the campaign. The operations against Crete in late 5/41 were supported by the biplanes of 162a and 163a Squadriglia used as fighter-bombers. The offensive against Malta started since the first day of war and involved the CR.42s of 17° Gruppo, 9° Gruppo (before going to Libya) and 23° Gruppo. After a full year of war the RAF had claimed 16 confirmed destroyed CR.42s over Malta. 7 additional were claimed as probables and 6 were claimed as damaged. Totally RAF made claims for 106 confirmed, 47 probables and 38 damaged over Malta. It was a wearing war and only by 1942 the CR.42s were fully replaced by the Macchi C.202s and the Reggiane Re.2001s.

    Another task undertaken by the CR.42 was the convoy-escort role and, between 1940 and 1942 lots of mission were conducted from Sardinia and Sicily to protect the convoys headed to and from Libya. Last but not least, a few CR.42s were employed also in anti-shipping role with their two 100Kg bombs, dropping them after a dive. Some successes were obtained and the biplanes based in Sardinia took part to “mid-August battle” on 1942 with eight CR.42s. But there was more: the CR.42 was used also as night-fighter. The first attempt was made in Libya by using normal CR.42s in good visibility and with moonlight and five enemy aircraft were downed during 1941. Thus, several CR.42s were modified with shrouded exhausts, complete navigational instruments and radio equipment. Some operated in Sicily with 171° Gruppo from late 1941 but until the end of 1942 no more than seven of them were operational. By late 1942, two N.F. groups, 59° and 60° were based in Northern Italy, 167° Gruppo in Central Italy and several autonomous units in Southern Italy and the islands. A total of about 80 CR.42 CN (CN = Caccia Notturna) was used. Obviously the results were very scarce, due to the improved performance of the enemy aircraft.

    The CR.42s were still used by 9/8/43, when the Armistice was signed. From this moment, most of those survived were either seized by the Germans (for their flying schools but not only) or, in small numbers, used both by the Italian Cobelligerent Air Force and by the ANR, but only as liaison planes and as trainers. The Germans instead didn’t consider the operational career of the CR.42 ended: in fact they envisaged for it a role in the Luftwaffe as night attack plane. Several biplanes were thus modified by the Fiat factory and brought up to German standards. They equipped both NSGr.7 and NSGr.9 (Nachtschlachtgruppe = Night Harassment Gruppe), the former operating in the Balkans up to the end of the war and the latter in Italy, namely over the bridgehead of Anzio, until replaced by the more efficient Ju 87 Stuka in 6/44. About forty CR.42s survived to the end of the war and almost twenty of them were used in the late ’40s by the Italian Air Force as trainers (at least eleven were modified as a bi-place) and liaison planes. The career of the Falco thus ended, a sort of monument to a great plane, the last of its era, but also a monument to the inability of the Regia Aeronautica to develop in time a replacement for an aging aircraft representing an already obsolete formula. A total of 1,782 CR.42s were built.

    Source: FIAT CR.42 Falco | Comando Supremo
     

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  8. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    From November 1942 to April 1943, the Regia Aeronautica received only 160 new bombers and 758 new fighters from their own production lines. For this reason, the Italian Air Force decided to use German aircraft. General Kesselring accepted a first batch of about 30 Bf 109s that were assigned to 150° and 3° Gruppo. The first unit under command of Maggiore Antonio Vizzotto was ready to operate in April moving to Caltagirone airfield, then on Sciacca's, in Sicily. Just before the Allies landed in Sicily, the 150° Gruppo (363ª, 364ª, 365ª Squadriglia) had 25 Bf 109s operative, while 17 other Bf 109s were with 3° Gruppo (153ª, 154ª, 155ª Squadriglia) on Comiso airfield, in Sicily. Most of them were destroyed by Allied bombers. On 12 July, the fourth day of combat, the two Gruppos had lost nearly all the aircraft. By mid-July, the 150° Gruppo was deployed to Ciampino airfield, just outside Rome with the last three remaining Bf 109s arriving from Sicily. Meanwhile, 23° Gruppo (70ª, 74ª, 75ª Squadriglia) of 3° Stormo, on Cerveteri airfield, in Latium, received 11 Bf 109Gs. By 8 September, when Italy signed the Armistice of Cassibile, only four Bf 109s remained servicable, based on Ciampino airstrip, with 150 Gruppo.

    The Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana (ANR) was the airforce deployed by the Repubblica Sociale Italiana (RSI). Although the ANR was organised by the RSI, much of its operational control came from the Luftwaffe. At first, the ANR fighter units (I° Gruppo Caccia and II° Gruppo Caccia[16]) used Macchi C.205s and Fiat G.55s respectively. Notwithstanding the G.55s gave a good account of themselves against Allied fighters like the Spitfire and Mustang [17] the Luftwaffe's Jagdfliegerführer (Fighter Controller or Jafü), considering that many of the unit's pilots had experience flying the Bf 109Gs of the Regia Aeronautica over Sicily, directed that the Fiat G.55s of II°Gr.C would be replaced by Bf 109Gs. Ex-JG 4 Bf 109 G-6 aircraft started arriving at Cascina Vaga on 29 May, and two G-12 trainers were delivered two weeks later. By 22 June, the unit was ready for its first operations. The unit's first operation with the Bf 109 occurred on 22 June 1944; eleven Bf 109s sortied from the airfield, although nothing was achieved.

    I°Gr.C continued to use a combination of Macchi 205s and Fiat G.55s although, for various reasons, the unit rarely operated from August 1944 through to December, when the first Bf 109 G-12 trainer arrived. Still in December, the remaining 17 pilots of I° Gruppo were moved to Rangsdorf, in Berlin, to start a training course on Me 163 rocket fighter. In November 1944, I°Gr.C was transferred to the Luftwaffe flying school at Holzkirchen in Germany to convert to the Messerschmitts. At the beginning of February, 57 of I° Gruppo's pilots were ready for operations with the Me 109; 51 (52, according to other sources) G-6s, G-10s and K-4s, most of which came directly from Germany, were available at the end of the month. The fighters were placed on the heath between Lonate Pozzolo and Malpensa airfields, and carefully camouflaged to protect them from Allied air raids. The first combat operation occurred on 14 March 1945. I° Gruppo attempted to intercept B-25 Mitchells of the 321st Bomb Group near Lake Garda but, in turn, were bounced by P-47 Thunderbolts of the 350th Fighter Group. 1° Gruppo had three pilots dead, one wounded, three aircraft lost and six damaged; in return one P-47 was claimed by the Commander Adriano Visconti.

    The other ANR fighter unit, II° Gruppo, that had given at the end of May 1944 its G.55s to I° Gruppo, had been re-equipped with 46 ex I./JG 53 and II./JG 77 Bf 109 G-6. On 22 June 1944, it took off on its first operational flight with its Messerschmitts and three days later it shot down two P-47s from the Gaullist French G.C.II/3. At this stage, Luftwaffe ordered ANR pilots to operate outside Italian borders. For instance, on 25 July, 18 Bf 109Gs fron 2° Gruppo were ordered to move to Tulln, in Austria. Here they were subordinated to JG 53. They operated together with German pilots against an Allied bomber raid. During this combined mission eight B-24 Liberators were shot down.

    On 2 April 1945, II° Gruppo 29 Bf 109s, from Aviano and Osoppo bases, intercepted a large formation of B-25s over Ghedi, Brescia, escorted by P-47Ds of 347 Fighter Squadron. In the air battle that ensued, ANR pilots suffered a heavy defeat: 14 Bf 109s were shot down and six Italian pilots killed, without scoring a single air victory. On 10 April, three Bf 109s, flown by Sottotenente (Flying Officer) Umberto Gallori, Maresciallo (Warrant Officer) Mario Veronesi and Maresciallo Dino Forlani, intercepted P-47s from 57° Fighter Squadron over Milan and Como. Forlani claimed a P-47 damaged, but the other two Italian fighters were hit and lightly damaged. On 19 April, 1° Gruppo "Asso di bastoni" had its last combat, last claim and its last loss.
     

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  9. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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  10. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

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    Great stuff...more 109's...:D
     
  11. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    Representing the first design essay of the young technician Giuseppe Gabrielli with the Fiat company, the Fiat G.50 fighter was designed in 1935-6 but, although a break from the traditional biplane formula, offered much less in operational potential than the contemporary Hawker Hurricane and Messerschmitt Bf 109. The prototype G.50 first flew on 26 February 1937 and was the first all-metal monoplane with constant-speed propeller and retractable landing gear to be evaluated by the Regia Aeronautica. Named Freccia (arrow), the G.50 was ordered into production with the CMASA company (a subsidiary of Fiat) and 12 of the first aircraft were sent to Spain for operational evaluation. Despite the superiority of the Macchi C.200, it was decided to go ahead and equip one stormo and one gruppo with the G.50, and an initial order for 200 aircraft was placed. In November 1939 the type was delivered to the 51° Stormo, and soon afterwards to the 52° Stormo, and when Italy entered the war in the following June 118 Freccias were in service. In November 1940 48 G.50s of the 51° Stormo moved to Belgium to take part in the air attacks on the UK; however, they saw little action, being principally engaged in 'surveillance' duties. In September that year the prototype of a new version, the G.50bis, had flown, and with improved cockpit armour and increased fuel this entered production for eventual service with five gruppi in North Africa. With a maximum speed of only 460km/h and an armament of two machine-guns, the G.50 was hardly a match for RAF fighters in the Mediterranean, yet survived in service until July 1943. Production eventually reached 245 G.50 and 421 G.50bis fighters, and 108 of a dualcontrol two-seat trainer, the G.50B. G.50s were also supplied to the Croatian and Finnish air forces.
     

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  12. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    In September 1940, 20° Gruppo (Squadriglie 351/352/353), commanded by Maggiore Mario Bonzano, equipped with Fiat G.50 was part of the 56° Stormo formed to operate during the Battle of Britain as part of the Corpo Aereo Italiano based in Belgium, with 18° Gruppo (Fiat CR.42). Their use was hampered by their slow speed, open cockpits and short range. At the beginning of 1941, the C.A.I. came back to Italy, except for two G.50 Squadriglie that stayed in Belgium with Luftflotte 2, until April. While with the C.A.I. the Fiats flew 429 missioni-velivoli (missions), 34 escorts and 26 scrambles but could not manage to engage enemy aircraft. One aircraft was lost and seven more were damaged. While with Luftflotte 2, 20° Gruppo lost four additional fighters and two pilots were killed (Roncali (13 February 1941) and Meneghini (3 April), both of 352a Squadriglia), while two G.50s were damaged by German fighters and flak. The experiences of the early series G.50s over Britain showed the inadequacies of the type. Its operations were almost useless in the campaign because they were too short-ranged and stationed too away from England. The G.50s had limited endurance, with missions rarely exceeding one hour. The G.50bis with larger fuel tanks was already in production, but it was not sent to 20° Gruppo in time. Performance was also lacking; when 22 Fiat G.50s intercepted several Hawker Hurricanes on 5 November 1940, the RAF fighters easily escaped. On 21 November, when a Bristol Blenheim attacked the Medgelem airfield two G.50s scrambled, but lost the bomber in the clouds. On 23 November, G.50s followed four Hurricanes, but were unable to close on them. Another fruitless intercept took place on 31 January, when G.50s lost a Blenheim that escaped into the clouds. The last sighting of enemy aircraft (fighters) occurred on 8 April 1941, when, once again, the elusive targets were not intercepted.

    The G.50s were early models with an open canopy, useful in Mediterranean climes, but the pilots suffered heavily in the bad weather of northern Europe. The aircraft was also under-equipped, with a mediocre radio set (powered by batteries, prone to freeze at altitude) and lacking any armour protection. In Belgium, 20° Gruppo had the opportunity to see the Bf 109 in action with several G.50 pilots trained to fly the type with two Bf 109Es sent to the Gruppo in mid-January 1941. The G.50s returned to Italy and later the 20° Gruppo had the G.50bis that had the endurance required for operational missions utilizing an extra fuel tank in the internal fuselage section originally configured as a bomb bay, but this series was primarily utilized over Africa. In the second half of the war, the G.50 operated as a multirole fighter/ground attack aircraft, with external bombs only. During the opening phase of the Allied invasion of Sicily, the G.50 was the most numerous aircraft used by the Regia Aeronautica to counter attack the Allied landings. Just before the invasion, the Regia Aeronautica moved to Southern Italy. 50° Stormo Assalto, a specialized ground attack unit was equipped with Fiat G.50bis fighter-bombers. As soon the invasion started, on 10 July 1943, further units were rushed to the area. With other Italian and German ground attack units, 45 Fiat G.50bis of 158° and 159° Gruppi Assalto, from Pistoia were committed to attack ships, landing craft and troops. On 11 July, 10 of them were in action with Re.2002s (escorted by five Re.2005s of 362a Squadriglia), when they were intercepted by an overwhelming fighter “umbrella”. Three G.50s were shot down, including Tenente Colonnello Guido Nobili, commander of 5° Stormo Assalto. The remainder landed on an airfield but were destroyed by an incoming air attack. By the time of the Italian Armistice with the Allies, only a few G.50s were left in Italian service. Some were used as part of the Italian Co-Belligerent Air Force, while four others were used by the Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana as fighter trainers. The top scoring Italian pilot in a Fiat G.50 was Furio Lauri, who was credited with 11 "kills" before the end of 1941 with a final score of 18.

    The first 27 Fiat G.50s, belonging to Squadriglie 150a and 152a from 2° Gruppo Autonomo C.T., arrived in Libya on 27 December 1940, operating from Brindisi and Grottaglie airfields. They flew their first combat mission on 9 January 1941 when Capitano Pilota Tullio Del Prato (already known to have been a Reggiane Test pilot), Comandante of 150a Squadriglia encountered a Hawker Hurricane Mk I on the front line that attacked him, forcing the Fiat to crash-land in the desert.[25] On 25 January 1941, a new unit, 20° Gruppo Autonomo C.T., with 351a, 360a and 378a Squadriglie, commanded by Maggiore pilota Pietro Bianchi, arrived in Libya, with 31 brand new Fiat monoplanes. On 27 May, 20° Gruppo was reinforced by 151a Squadriglia, equipped with the new Fiat G.50bis version. Caught up in the chaotic retreat of Italian army in the winter of 1940–41, the Fiat G.50s saw little action.

    In Africa, although the G.50s were mainly outperformed, G.50 pilots sometimes managed to shoot down the faster and better armed Hurricanes and P-40s. G.50s were faster than biplanes, as showed in 1939 air exercises, so they could be useful against British bombers, even if their armament was relatively weak and often insufficient to shot down their target. By that time, the G.50s in North Africa were the better -bis version which, although heavier,had almost two hours of flight time as a result of the extra fuel carried. The G.50s did not carry bombs, but used HE and incendiary bullets. Their usual tactic with the G.50 was to dive from 1,500 meters but the type never flew very high over Africa, with the usual ceiling not exceeding 4,500 m. The aircraft were still lacking radios and the desert sand, despite their air filter, could cut the engine lifespan to only 70–80 hours. In the hands of expert pilots, the Fiat G.50 could score multiple kills in a single action. On the evening of 9 July 1941, Sergente Maggiore Aldo Buvoli of 378a Squadriglia, 155° Gruppo Autonomo, took off from Castel Benito airfield to patrol Tripoli harbour, and duly intercepted seven Blenheim light bombers that were performing a low-level attack on the ships. The Blenheims were already being pursued by two Fiat CR.42 biplanes from 151° Gruppo when Buvoli attacked the bombers shooting at each of them, in sequence. One Blenheim ditched in the sea while another was shot down a few miles north of Tripoli. Two more Blenheims never returned to Luqa airfield in Malta and were posted as missing. For these successes Buvoli was awarded with the Medaglia d’argento al Valor Militare and was subsequently credited with four kills, No. 110 Squadron RAF reported the loss of a similar number of Blenheims IVs on its very first mission since arriving in Malta from UK in early July.

    One of the units fielded by the Regia Aeronautica was the 155° Gruppo, based at Derna airfield. One of the few first claims by "Freccias" pilots was on 9 April 1941, when Tenente Pilota Carlo Cugnasca (an expert pilot, and the first one to deliver a G.50 to Finland), attacked three Hurricanes Mk Is from No. 73 Squadron RAF, claiming one although this air victory was not confirmed.[29] On his return, he was forced to crash-land his G.50, flipping over on the airstrip, but remaining unharmed. At low level, the clashes were often confused and with unpredictable effects. Tactical surprise was often what made the difference, as the next battle showed. Cugnasca was still in action on 14 April when 66 Axis aircraft attacked Tobruk. They were mainly Ju.87 Stukas (42 from Lutftwaffe III./StG 1 and II./StG 2, and seven from 96° Gruppo), escorted by eight G.50s (155° Gr), four C.R.42s (18° Gr) and five Bf 110 (III.ZG 26). The defenders of 73 Sqn RAF were outnumbered. RAF Hurricanes had to ignore the Axis fighters and concentrate on attacking the bombers as the Stukas were the greatest threat, being such precise and lethal machines. Cugnasca and Marinelli attacked H.G. Webster, when he was shooting at a Stuka. Hurricanes with Stokes air-filter were only marginally faster than a G.50, so Webster was followed and finally shot down and killed (Hurricane V7553) over Tobruk. "Smudgeon" Smith, a Canadian ace (with five victories) saw what was going on, and attacked both Cugnasca and Marinelli, shooting down and killing them. Finally, Smith attacked and damaged another G.50, but commander Fanello saw him and saved the third G.50, surprising and shooting down Smith. That day was a draw, with two G.50s and two Hurricane lost. Both Smith and Cugnasca were well known and respected, so it was also a heavy human loss for both sides.

    G.50s operated from Martuba airfield with the first attack over Sidi el Barrani airfield made seven days later. On 4 July 1941, six G.50s attacked again, strafing aircraft and ground equipment. The worst day for the G50s was during 'Operation Crusader'. On 18 November, the Desert Air Force destroyed 13 aircraft on the Ain el Gazala airfields; 10 of them were G.50s. On 19 November, 20° Gruppo based at Sid el Rezegh suffered heavy losses when British armoured forces (40 Crusaders of 6th RTR and several units of 3rd Brigade, South African Regiment, both part of 7th Armoured Brigade) suddenly attacked the airfield. Of the 19 G.50s, only three escaped whilst 80 pilots and ground crew were taken POW. In only two days, Regia Aeronautica lost 34 aircraft. In total, G.50s losses were no less than 26, and the 20° Gruppo was almost destroyed, since it had only 36 G.50s with 27 of them serviceable.
     

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  13. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    The Ro.57 was preceded by another twin engine fighter design, the Ro.53, which never entered production. The Ro.57 consisted of an all-metal, semi-monocoque fuselage with a steel skeleton and Duralumin structure. The wings were also Duralumin. Powered by two 840 hp (630 kW) Fiat A.74 radial engines giving a maximum speed of 516 km/h, which in 1939 was better than that of the main Italian fighter, the Macchi C.200 (504 km/h). After testing at Guidonia it was proposed by IMAM for use as a dive bomber. This transformation, which involved the addition of dive brakes, provision for 500 kg bombs and an improved forward firing armament (adding two 20 mm cannon), took time and delayed production. The resulting aircraft was designated the Ro.57bis. Performance dropped to 457 km/h maximum speed and to 350 km/h at cruise speed. The Ro.57bis was ordered into production in 1942 and entered service with the 97° Gruppo in 1943. About 50-60 aircraft were delivered. It is said that the Ro.57 could have been the long range interceptor that Italy lacked throughout the war. It proved to be too costly for the limited weapons it carried and it never was assigned a clear role[citation needed]. A better-armed version with more powerful engines was developed as the Ro.58.
     

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  14. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    The Re.2000 was the first of a series of Italian fighter aircraft produced by the Reggiane subsidiary of the Caproni group. The Re.2000 arrived too late to compete in the 1938 contest to find a new fighter for the Regia Aeronautica (Italian Air Force), and only a very small number entered Italian service. It had originally been intended that Reggiane would concentrate on licensed production of American aircraft. Instead it was decided to produce a semi-original aircraft, heavily based on the Seversky P-35. This was a single seat fighter powered by the 1,050hp Twin Wasp engine, capable of reaching 305 mph. The Reggiane design retained the fuselage and wings of the P-35. It was powered by the Piaggio P.XI RC.40 14-cylinder air-cooled radial engine, providing 986hp. Despite the less powerful engine, the Re.2000 was still faster than the P-35, with the prototype reaching a top speed of 320mph.

    The new design had two great disadvantages in the 1938 contest to find a new fighter aircraft. First, the prototype did not fly until May 1938, some six months later than its best rival, the Macchi C.200 Saetta. Based around a new engine from an untried supplier, and with war looking ever more likely any delay could be disastrous. Second, it carried its fuel in a vulnerable position in its wings, where they could easily be hit by enemy fire. The fuel tanks also tended to leak in normal conditions. This second problem caused the cancellation of an Air Ministry order for 188 production aircraft. The Re.2000 was more manoeuvrable than its Italian rivals, and had an impressively high service ceiling for 1938. Reggiane won a number of export orders for the Re.2000, selling 70 to Hungary, 60 to Sweden and even 300 to Great Britain (although none were delivered before Italy entered the war). Another forty aircraft were completed, including 24 of the long range Re.2000 G.A., designed to be able to reach Italy’s East African empire.

    The main Italian user of the Re.2000 was the 23rd Gruppo Autonomo (Independent Group). One of its three squadrons received a number of Re.2000s in the spring of 1941. At the same time an experimental section was formed to test the Re.2000 under operational conditions. In their hands the Re.2000 was used to drop light bombs on British positions on Malta. In July 1941 the experimental section was upgraded to full squadron status as the 377th Squadriglia Autonomo Caccia Terrestre (Independent Land-Based Fighter Squadron), equipped with thirteen Re.2000s. This unit operated the aircraft from Sicily and North Africa until September 1942. The seventy aircraft sold to Hungary saw the most active service. As a German ally, Hungary joined in the invasion of Russia, sending a number of Re.2000s (known as the Héja in Hungarian service) to the front. They were operational between August 1941 and January 1943, when the last operational aircraft were overrun during a Russian advance. Although not a great success itself, the Re.2000 was a fundamentally sound design. When combined with the more powerful Daimler Benz DB 601A-1 engine, built under license in Italy, it became the basis of the much improved Re.2001 Falco II.

    Source; Reggiane Re.2000 Falco (Falcon)
     

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  15. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    Only five Serie Is served in the Regia Aeronautica, including the prototype. They were organized into the Sezione Sperimentale Reggiane inside the 74a Squadriglia in Sicily. Later it was renamed 377a Squadriglia Autonoma Caccia Terrestre, and received nine further Serie III Re.2000bis; 12 of the 26 Reggianes were later converted to GA standard. The few Re.2000 and 2000GA were used over Mediterranean Sea as escort and attack aircraft, sometimes with Macchi 200/202s and C.R.20 two-engine fighters. 377a was based in Sicily, and fought in Malta and Pantelleria, mainly in an escort role and protecting Axis ships almost until Tunisia (with a range up to 300–350 km), well beyond the other RA single seat-fighters; sometimes it was used to attack Malta with bomblets (spezzoni) and machine guns, typically at dawn. It was reported a single 'kill' against a Bristol Blenheim. Overall, their service was not remarkable: there was at least one sudden fatal flat spin, while another Re.2000 had a fatal engine damage (a piston was literally driven through the cylinder) and crash-landed, overturning, catching fire and almost killing his pilot (rescued by the ground crew). Although the Reggiane had a long range, it was disliked and even feared by ground crew and pilots, for its difficult maintenance and unpredictable engine reliability and handling. The last Re.2000 was sent back to the factory in September 1942. The final fate of Re.2000 in Regia Aeronautica was to serve with 1° Nucleo Addestramento Intercettori (N.A.I.), based at Treviso, and serving for experimental purposes until the Armistice. The last two serviceable aircraft were demolished by the Germans, with another one destroyed after being captured at Furbara.

    The Regia Marina (Italian Navy), however, experimented with a carrier version (Serie II) which was successfully launched by catapult. Lacking a carrier, Italy used a similar system to the British CAM ships equipped with Hurricanes. The first proposal was made in late December 1940, although the program officially began with an order issued in April 1943. The first modified Re.2000 Cat. (taken from the Swedish orders) flew on 27 June 1941, the last on 18 January 1942 (MM.8282-8288), but crashed on 10 September. There was another navalized Re.2000, the MM.471. It flew initially with a lower powered A.74 RC.38 engine, but it was lost too, during the travel from Reggio Emilia to Taranto (12 May 1941). The first launch was performed on 9 May 1942 with test pilot Giulio Reiner. The work to make suitable the Re.2000 Cat., nicknamed Ochetta (little goose) took considerable time and only at the beginning of 1943 were they used aboard the Littorio class, but not more than one for every ship (although capable of holding three aircraft). Initially the Re.2000 Cat. aircraft were issued to 'Littorio' and V.Veneto, while Roma followed only in the summer, after testing had taken place aboard the RN Miraglia.

    The Re.2000 Cat. was slower than a standard Re.2000; instead of 515–530 km/h, the maximum speed was only 505–520 km/h at 5,500 m, and 390 km/h on sea level (Re.2000: 530 and 410 km/h), the climb to 6,000 m was 7,75 min (vs 6,5-7 min), apparently there was not much difference in ceiling 10,000-11,100 m and endurance, range was 450 km, endurance 1,000 km (at 460 km/h), up to km 1,290 (at m 6,000, full loaded, km/h 430). Weights were 2,120-2,870 or, probably with the complete kit, 2,200-2,970 kg; the engine was the P.XIbis, that had 1,000 hp (750 kW) both at takeoff and at 4,000 meters.[11] Differing from the Serie I, both Serie II and III variants were equipped with radios. There was the usual Italian armament (two 0.50 caliber Breda machine-guns with 300 rounds each), and some provisions for external loads (tanks or bombs), apparently never utilized. The Re.2000 were assigned to Squadriglia di Riserva Aerea delle FF.NN.BB. (air reserve squadron for naval battleships), led by Cap. Donato Tondi. Firstly based at Grottaglie, later Capodichino, finally La Spezia, as air defence for naval bases. Disbanded on April 1943, it was replaced by 1° Gr. Riserva Aerea delle FF.NN.BB, led by now Maj. Tondi, with three flights. It had all the eight Re.2000s and several old fighters. Many of them were aboard of the battleships: two for V.Veneto and Roma, one for Littorio (summer 1943).

    Six Re.2000 Cat.s were still available at the time of Armistice and four were in service aboard of the battleships Littorio, Roma and Italia (the normal load was only one, the battleship had up to three aircraft, but smaller than the Re.2000). The two left at La Spezia were demolited after September 1943 (they served with 1a Squadriglia). During the Roma's sinking (9 September 1943) only one was launched, as they were a single mission aircraft (forced to reach a land airfield); therefore, Do 217s attacked facing only a.a. guns. The fate of the four Re.2000s was as follows: the one of Roma was lost with the battleship; the one of Italia (ex-Littorio) was damaged and ejected from the ship, after the Fritz-X impact. One Re.2000 was launched from 'Veneto' to catch the intruders, but failed and finally crashed while landing near Ajaccio airfield. The last one survived and it is still existent, the only Re.2000 in Italy (another is in Sweden). This is the MM.8287.
     

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  16. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

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    good stuff, don't mind the Fiat G-50 either...
     
  17. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    #17 gekho, Jul 4, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2012
    The Macchi M.C.200 Saetta (Lightning) was one of the most important Italian fighter aircraft during the first years of Italian involvement in the Second World War, but was outclassed by its more modern opponents. The basic design of the M.C.200 was produced during 1935 by Mario Castoldi, the chief designer at Macchi, as a design study for a monoplane fighter with retractable undercarriage. In the following year the Italian Air Ministry (Ministero dell'Aeronautica) issued a specification for a new metropolitan defence fighter. The key feature of the initial specification was that the aircraft required a good rate of climb, in order to reach incoming hostile aircraft in time to intercept them. Endurance was to be limited, and the new fighter would only be armed with a single .50in machine gun. This specification was soon modified to include a second .50in machine gun, while the required endurance was increased to two hours. The new aircraft would be produced as part of 'Programme R', an attempt to increase the strength of the Italian Air Force.

    The prototype M.C.200 made its maiden flight on 24 December 1937. It was a low-wing monoplane of metal construction, with a well-streamlined fuselage and a well designed fully enclosed cockpit canopy. The engine was mounted comparatively low compared to the main part of the fuselage, giving the aircraft a slightly humped appearance, but also improving visibility. The new aircraft had a good rate of climb, was manoeuvrable and was strongly built. It did suffer from two major problems. The first was the limited firepower provided by the two .50in machine guns, which gave it only a third of the weight of fire of the eight-gun British Hurricane and Spitfire. The second was its radial engine. Towards the end of the Second War World radial engines would develop so much power that they were able to overcome their high level of drag to produce excellent aircraft such as the American Thunderbolt and Corsair, but the Fiat radial engines used in the M.C.200 combined high drag and comparatively low power.

    Despite this limit the M.C.200 had a top speed of 313mph, only 10mph slower than the Hawker Hurricane I with its 1,030hp Rolls-Royce Merlin, so at first the Regia Aeronautica could be satisfied with its new aircraft. The limits of the radial engine became more obvious when compared to the slightly later Supermarine Spitfire I, which with the same engine as the Hurricane had a top speed of 362mph. The M.C.200 came up against the Caproni-Vizzola F.5, Reggiane Re.2000, A.U.T.18 and the I.M.A.M. Ro.51 in competitive trials in 1938, and emerged as the winner. The urgent need for new fighter aircraft meant that both the M.C.200 and Re.2000 were ordered into production, alongside the Fiat CR.42 and G.50, giving the Italian Air Force a wide range of obsolescent aircraft. Macchi were given an initial production contract for 99 aircraft, but this was soon expanded. The aim was to produce enough aircraft to equip three fighter stormi by the end of 1940, and 150 had been delivered by June 1940 when Italy entered the Second World War. Eventually 1,153 M.C.200s were built, 400 by Macchi and the rest by Breda and SAI-Ambrosini. In a rather odd twist the first stormi to receive the new monoplane, the 4th Stormo 'Cavallino Rampante' refused to accept the aircraft, and instead insisted on keeping its biplanes, but by June 1940 elements of the 6th and 54th Stormi were equipped with the new aircraft.

    In a rather odd twist the first stormi to receive the new monoplane, the 4th Stormo 'Cavallino Rampante' refused to accept the aircraft, and instead insisted on keeping its biplanes, but by June 1940 elements of the 6th and 54th Stormi were equipped with the new aircraft. The same conservatism saw the original fully enclosed cockpit canopy rejected and after 240 aircraft had been built it was replaced by a semi-open version with a solid back, reducing rearwards visibility.
     

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  18. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    The M.C.200 was grounded during the brief campaign against France in 1940, and didn't see combat until September 1940, when it was used to escort Italian Ju 87s attacking Malta. In March 1941 the M.C.200 was deployed to Greece for the first time, in response to the appearance of RAF Hurricanes. The two aircraft were well matched, but the Italians still suffered serious losses during the brief campaign in Yugoslavia and the harder fighting in Greece. In April 1941 the M.C.200 made its first appearance in North Africa, where it came up against the Hurricane and the P-40. Officially two full Gruppi were available for most of the year, but actual aircraft availability was often poor, only reaching 25 aircraft in December.

    During 1942 the M.C.200 was replaced as a dedicated fighter by more modern aircraft, amongst them the M.C.202 with its licence-built Daimler Benz DB 601A engine. The surviving M.C.200s were used as fighter-bombers, carrying two bombs under the wings. The aircraft continued to operate in this role throughout 1942, taking part in the fighting around Tobruk and the retreat from El Alamein. By the end of the year only twenty-five aircraft were available in North Africa, and by mid-July 1943, when the Allies invaded Sicily, there were only 42 serviceable M.C.200s left in Italian service. Of these 23 escaped to Allied controlled airfields after the Italian Armistice in September 1943.

    The M.C.200 also saw service in Russia, first arriving with the 22nd Gruppo in August 1941. Over the next eighteen months the M.C.200 was used on the southern part of the front, alongside a small number of M.C.202s. Only fifteen aircraft were lost in combat during some 6,000 sorties, and eighty-eight victories were claimed.

    Source: Macchi M.C.200 Saetta (Lightning)
     

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  19. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    Some aviation experts consider the FIAT G55 Centauro the best single seat fighter produced for the Italian air force in World War Two. The Fiat G55 Centauro was a redesigned version of the G50 Freccia. Differences included a DB 605 A-1 engine, an improved fineness ratio of the fuselage and a redesigned wing, built in 2 sections ,bolted together at the centerline for greater efficiency. Metal stressed skin was used and the metal framed airlerone was fabric covered.

    The first prototype was flown on April 30, 1942 and production started in the beginning of 1943. The initial model was the G55/0 which held a 20mm MG 151 cannon and (4) 12.7mm Breda SAFAT machine guns.

    The “O” model was succeeded by the “I” model which held three 20mm MG151′s and two Breda SAFAT machine guns. Deliveries of the G55 to the 53rd Stormo and the 353rd Squadriglia of the 20th Gruppo just started when Italy surrendered to the Allies on September 8, 1943. Because of Italy’s surrender, the G55 did not see combat with the Regia Aeronautica. However, factories which were building the G55′s were still under the control of the Republica Sociale Italiana (Salo Republic) in northern Italy, and several thousand were ordered. The G55 became the RSI’s standard aircraft for their air force. Shortages began to develop as the DB 605 A-1 engines became scarce and only 105 FIAT G55′s were produced by the time the Allies overran all of Italy.

    Other models developed based on the G55 which were the G55/II with 5 20mm cannons and the G55/S Torpedo Fighter, which carried one 2,176 lb Whitehead fiume torpedo beneath the fuselage. Both of these variations of the G55 flew in 1944.

    After the war, production of the G55 resumed for foreign export and the newer G55/A’s and G55/B’s were built. Fiat reinstalled the production lines to produce the G.55A armed with either 2 wing-mounted 12.7mm machine guns or 2 20mm canon plus the 2 12.7mm machine guns in the cowling. 19 went to the Italian air force and 30 were supplied to Argentina. Argentina returned 17 that were then sold to Egypt in 1948, being armed with 4 12.7mm machine guns. A 2-seat trainer version, the G.55B was built in 1946 with 10 going to the Italian air force and 15 to Argentina in 1948.

    Source: FIAT G.55 Centauro | Comando Supremo
     

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  20. gekho

    gekho Active Member

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    The first Centauro to see operational use was the third prototype. On 21 March 1943, the aircraft was assigned to 20° Gruppo (squadron), 51° Stormo CT, based on Roma-Ciampino, for operational evaluation. In May, the G.55 followed the unit to Capoterra, near Cagliari having its baptism of fire on 5 June 1943, against Allied aircraft attacking Sardinia. The two first pre-production series flew, respectively, on 10 April and in May 1943. In early June they were assigned to 353a Squadriglia (flight) CT based in Foligno, Umbria, were, until August, were transferred nine more aircraft. Pilots were delighted when they began to receive the new fighter in summer 1943.

    In June, the first Serie I were assigned to Gruppo Complementare of 51° Stormo in Foligno, near Perugia, but in July the 11 G.55 of Gruppo Complementare were transferred to 353a Squadriglia, that already had in charge the "pre-series" machines, to operate from Roma-Ciampino Sud airfield. The 353a Squadriglia, commanded by Capitano Egeo Pittoni, flew many missions against the American bomber formation, but the flights were stopped when Rome was declared "Città aperta" (Open City). On 27 August, the Squadriglie 351a and 352a left Sardinia and arrived in Foligno to be re-equipped with G.55. But at the date of the 8 Septempber the G.55 had not been delivered yet. During the first week of September, 12 Centauros had been assigned to 372a Squadriglia of 153° Gruppo in Torino-Mirafiori. On 8 September 1943, the date of Armistice, the Regia Aeronautica had received 35 G.55s. Only one of them flew to southern Italy, accepting the invitation of Maresciallo d'Italia Pietro Badoglio to surrender to Allied forces.
     

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